There’s a latest face welcoming visitors to Boston. It belongs to a 3-year-old in Velcro sneakers, crouching by a boombox and haloed in gold. She’s the artist Rob Gibbs’s daughter, who stares unflinchingly from a soaring 70-foot mural across from South Station, town’s biggest train terminal.
Mr. Gibbs — who paints under the name ProBlak — is the primary Black Boston-native artist to be commissioned for the rotating Dewey Square mural. Mr. Gibbs grew up in Roxbury and has been painting partitions in town for years. This newest mural, “Breathe Life Together,” might be up through May 2023. His art pays homage to under-heard people in Boston, and is a mirrored image of his neighborhood and residential. “If I’m going to welcome people to town, the most effective thing I can do is give them a home-cooked meal,” he said. “This can be a home-cooked meal.”
It’s a welcome for visitors who’re returning to Recent England’s largest city at near prepandemic levels. Hotel occupancy in June was 81.8 percent — shy of June 2019, when rates were 89.8 percent, but an unlimited improvement over a pandemic low of 5 percent. And with nonstop flights from 127 domestic and international destinations, travelers are being met with revolutionary art, latest music venues, upscale dining options and reimagined hotels.
Exhibitions and installations
The role of art in fostering conversation has been a spotlight on the Museum of Nice Arts lately. That conversation was thrust onto a national stage when, following the murder of George Floyd and through an ongoing nationwide reckoning with race, its retrospective of Philip Guston, a painter who often explored white supremacy, anti-Semitism and violence in his work, was delayed two years to rethink and reframe its presentation, which incorporates things like trigger warnings and resources for viewers to organize themselves emotionally for the show. The postponement outraged many within the art world, but in May, the M.F.A. opened the show, “Philip Guston Now,” which was lauded by many for its thoughtful approach, while others questioned the necessity for such cautionary features.
The exhibition will close on Sept. 11, every week after the M.F.A. celebrates the opening of the “Obama Portraits Tour” (Sept. 3 through Oct. 30), the ultimate North American stop before the official presidential portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama return to the National Portrait Gallery. Alongside the Obama portraits might be greater than 2,600 drawings, paintings and photos from as distant as South Korea. They’re a part of a community project that invited participants to submit a portrait of a frontrunner of their lives.
President Obama’s remarks on the opening of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington celebrated King’s vision of unity. In January, Boston will unveil its own monument to Martin Luther King and his wife, Coretta Scott King, who met as students in Boston. Designed by the Brooklyn-based artist Hank Willis Thomas, “The Embrace,” a 20-by-40-foot sculpture, might be installed on Boston Common, America’s oldest public park and some of the visible places in town.
Other latest art projects are decidedly more whimsical. In June, 10 miniature street scenes looked as if it would appear by magic around Greater Boston. The mouse-size installations, just like the tiny “Mouseum” within the Seaport, are the brainchild of AnonyMouse, an art collective that has been creating pop-ups around Sweden since 2016. The storybook scenes have spawned scavenger hunts for all ages.
Music venues up the sport
After Boston’s live music scene went quiet through the pandemic, concert events crept back onto calendars in 2021, with masked audiences and proof-of-vaccination requirements. Now concertgoers are back in full force, and Boston has two latest venues to welcome them.
A decade after opening Cambridge’s Sinclair, which music lovers flocked to for its outstanding acoustics and unobstructed sightlines, the Bowery Presents enlisted the identical team to design Roadrunner, a 3,500-person music hall within the Brighton neighborhood of Boston. Opened in March, the general-admission venue offers six bars and a contemporary industrial-chic design. The 50,000-square-foot room with multilevel viewing of the 60-foot stage has already hosted Olivia Rodrigo, Leon Bridges and Lake Street Dive, and has greater than 30 acts booked for the autumn.
When the MGM Music Hall at Fenway opens this month, subtle design selections, like section numbers stenciled on concrete poles, will remind visitors they’re round the corner to America’s oldest ballpark. The 5,000-person venue greater than doubles the capability of the nearby House of Blues, but maintains its intimacy, with the farthest seat just 110 feet from the stage. A enterprise of Fenway Sports Group in partnership with Live Nation, its developers say the venue fills a void within the Boston market. The music hall makes its debut with a two-night stand from James Taylor, followed by Chris Stapleton, Bruno Mars and Lil Nas X.
Recent restaurants and craft beer
Recent dining options abound and maybe probably the most wanted is Contessa, which sits atop the recently reopened Newbury Hotel, offering Northern Italian cuisine and panoramic views. This primary Boston enterprise from the Recent York chef Mario Carbone is equal parts sophistication and luxury, with starters like squash carpaccio ($22), and mains including scallops aglio olio pepperoncino ($46).
When Maria Rondeau and JuanMa Calderón opened La Royal in February, they did it for the love of their neighborhood. The 48-seat restaurant is a block away from their home in Cambridge’s Huron Village, with a menu that attracts on Mr. Calderón’s Peruvian roots, and Salvadoran influences which are a homage to the restaurant’s staff. The causa de pulpo (potato terrine with octopus, $18), and the lomo soltado (stir-fried beef, $28), pair perfectly with the menu’s pisco cocktails (from $14).
Moored on the East Boston waterfront, the Tall Ship is an element floating oyster bar, part adult playground. With sweeping views of the skyline and harbor, it feels each quintessentially Boston, and in contrast to anything town has seen before. Onboard the 245-foot vessel, a raw bar serves lobster tails ($40) and sushi rolls (from $14). However the pier alongside the ship is where the motion is, with lawn games galore, frozen adult beverages and shipping-containers-turned-food-stalls, offering tacos ($17), sandwiches ($14) and menu items for teenagers.
To combine-and-match dishes from 20 of Boston’s best chefs, High Street Place on the sting of the Financial District is a very good bet. On the opening in March, Mayor Michelle Wu — the primary woman and person of color to be elected as town’s top official — celebrated that most of the food hall’s vendors are women and other people of color, and applauded the hassle to bring Boston’s diverse cultures to the downtown area. Kutzu marries the flavors of Korea and Southeast Asia with rice bowls ($14), banh mi sandwiches ($14) and “pho-men” — a cross between pho and ramen ($14). Dive Bar, from the James Beard-nominated Tiffani Faison, cooks up Recent England seafood with a touch of Recent Orleans spice (mains from $15). And North East of the Border is the primary brick-and-mortar location for a well-liked Mexican food truck (tacos from $5). To drink, there’s champagne at Bubble Bath and pints at Alewives Taproom.
Bostonians do love their craft beer, and native breweries are responding with latest locations. Nantucket’s Cisco Brewers was an early arrival within the rapidly developing Seaport neighborhood, with an open-air taproom flanked by food trucks. Massachusetts brewer Lord Hobo joined the neighborhood in March with its own taproom and restaurant. Across the river, Lamplighter Brewing opened a second location on the residential and retail development Cambridge Crossing. And for many who want a wide range of brews from around Recent England, Broken Records Beer Hall in Brighton features greater than 20 makers.
A renovated stalwart and classy newcomers
With latest properties and redesigns of classic hotels, there’s no shortage of places to examine in.
Within the Seaport, where the speed of development is dizzying, the Omni Hotel offers a virtually unheard-of amenity in town: a year-round, heated rooftop pool. Opened in September 2021, the 22-floor property boasts 4 full-service restaurants, a lobby bar, boulangerie and spa (doubles from $413).
Nestled between downtown and Boston’s North End — a bastion of Italian eateries — is the Cover by Hilton, a 212-room hotel opened in March. Designed to have a neighborhood neighborhood feel, the Cover houses a brasserie-style cafe, and in addition has bikes available for guests to explore town (doubles from $244).
After a $200 million renovation, the Langham Boston reopened its 312-room hotel in June 2021, with classically American-styled guest rooms, marble-floored bathrooms and a 268-piece art collection. Its craft cocktail bar, the Fed, nods to the property’s original occupant, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Within the Financial District, it’s a brief walk to Faneuil Hall, the aquarium and Boston Common (doubles from $436).
Across the Charles River, Cambridge and Somerville are also able to welcome visitors. On the sting of Central Square — near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and restaurants — is 907 Important, a boutique hotel whose classic brownstone exterior gives option to a contemporary interior (doubles from $175). Repeat visitors to Boston who need to explore a latest neighborhood can check into the Cambria Somerville. The 163-room hotel is walkable to Union Square, home to the latest M.T.B.A. stop. The long-anticipated and much-delayed subway extension has the neighborhood poised for an enormous transformation (doubles from $212).